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Snow mass estimates now more reliable

A new study in the journal Nature by reseachers from the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) and the Environment and Climate Change Canada produce the first reliable estimate of snow mass change and has helped to identify different continental trends.

Using the new GlobSnow 3.0 dataset they show that the 1980–2018 annual maximum snow mass in the Northern Hemisphere was, on average, 3,062 ± 35 billion tonnes.

Using a bias correction method they reduce uncertainty from 33% to 7.4%.

Paper: Pulliainen, J., Luojus, K., Derksen, C. et al. Patterns and trends of Northern Hemisphere snow mass from 1980 to 2018. Nature 581, 294–298 (2020).

Simulations suggest ice-free Arctic summers by 2050

A new analysis, using global climate models, predicts that most of the Arctic Ocean could become ice-free during summer by 2050. This new forecast, which used continuous and consistent satellite observations generated via ESA’s Climate Change Initiative, suggests that the future of the Arctic’s sea-ice cover critically depends on future carbon dioxide emissions.

Each year, Arctic sea ice goes through a seasonal cycle, growing in area and thickness through the cooler winter months before shrinking back again as temperatures rise in the spring and summer, with the minima occurring usually in September.

Since satellite-based measurements have begun in the 1970s, data show a trend of more ice melting away during summers and less new ice forming during winters. The daily Arctic sea-ice extent minimum in September 2019 was the second lowest in the 40-year satellite record. 

In a recent study, published in Geophysical Research Letters, scientists from 21 research institutes simulated the evolution of Arctic sea-ice using 40 different global climate models. The models encompass various hypothetical scenarios, including trajectories based on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate Change Initiative launches new research fellowship

Early-career researchers are invited to submit projects proposals to a new fellowship call to implement leading-edge research that contributes to the aim of the Climate Change Initiative (CCI) programme.

Successful research projects will make use of ESA data and Earth Observation assets and be undertaken over a two-year period, starting in January-March 2021. Up to €99000 is available per project which shall be co-funded by a host institution.

Thematic areas of particular interest:-

  • Exploiting Essential Climate Variable (ECV) products from CCI for improved understanding of climate change.
  • Examining cross-ECV consistency and multiple ECV use (those under the CCI Programme in particular)
  • Enhancing interactions between CCI members and other Earth science laboratories, research centres and universities

Projects that address cross-ECV research topics are also welcome.

Application information

To respond to this call you must submit all of the documents described in Section 2.2 of the Call for Research Proposals (Appendix 1).

This call is open, and proposals may be submitted via email to until the closing date of 8 August, 2020 (at 24:00 CEST).

Research Proposal Package

Shedding light on the ocean’s living carbon pump

New research from our Ocean Colour project, has produced a 20-year time-series of global primary production in the oceans – shedding new light on the ocean’s living carbon pump.

Published in the journal Remote Sensing, the research, led by Gemma Kulk of Plymouth Marine Laboratory, found that global annual primary production varied around 38 to 42 gigatonnes of carbon per year between 1998-2018.

>>> Full news story

Call for abstracts: 10th International Workshop on Sea Ice Modelling, Assimilation, Observations, Predictions & Verification

ESA's Climate Change Initiative Sea Ice project is holding a joint workshop to discuss cross-cutting issues in sea ice modelling and assimilation and how deficiencies of current systems can be more efficiently diagnosed and addressed.

!0th international workshop on sea ice modelling, assimilation, observations, predictions and verification

General topics and format:

Keynote, contributed presentations and poster sessions (contributions from attendees is engouraged) covering -

Climate Change Initiative project presentations at EGU 2020

Several speakers from CCI projects are presenting at the virtual  European Geosciences Union (EGU) conference from 4-8 May. Details are below:

Monday, 4 May

Data products from the ESA CCI Sea Level Budget Closure project
Martin Horwath and the Sea Level Budget Closure CCI Team
Mon, 04 May, 08:30-10:15 | D3799
EGU2020-12811 | Displays | CL4.5

Global validation of the ESA CCI+ Sea Surface Salinity  
Adrien Martin, Sébastien Guimbard, Jacqueline Boutin, Nicolas Reul, and Rafael Catany
Mon, 04 May, 08:30-10:15 | D2873 | EGU2020-11683 | Displays | OS4.5

Overview of the CCI+SSS project
Jacqueline Boutin, Nicolas Reul, Julia Koehler, Adrien Martin, Rafael Catany, and Climate Change Initiative Salinity Consortium
Mon, 04 May, 08:30-10:15 | D2864 | EGU2020-7513 | Displays | OS4.5

New data releases from the ESA Climate Change Initiative

Several new climate data products have been released to open data portal of ESA’s Climate Change Initiative in the period 1 May, 2020.

Recent updates include the addition of the first Snow product - Snow Water Equivalent 1979-2018 - and greenhouse gas products based on data retrieval from the OCO-2 (for XCO2) and Sentinel-5P (for XCH4) satellites. 

Data supporting northern hemispere permafrost extent mapping, the global distribution of above-ground biomass and a first version of global sea surface salinity datasets are outputs from newer ECV projects set up through the Climate Change Initiative. 

The first decade of Sea Surface Salinity observations from space – a review

Global satellite Sea Surface Salinity observations provide an essential means to better reveal the influence of salinity on ocean circulation, bio-geochemistry, its relations to climate variability, air-sea interactions, and the global water cycle. 

A new paper by lead author and CCI Science Lead, Nicolas Reul presents the sensor characteristics and algorithms associated with the ESA’s SMOS mission, in operation since 2009, and NASA’s Aquarius and SMAP missions which together provide the first decadal-scale Sea Surface Salinity dataset from space, now spanning 2010 to 2019.

The paper also describes the major scientific achievements and the quality assessment of latest satellite products for this fundamentally important Essential Climate Variable (ECV).

ESA’s Climate Change Initiative Sea Surface Salinity project continues to generate improved, calibrated global time series from all available satellite L-band radiometer measurements such as SMOS, Aquarius and SMAP. First versions of weekly and monthly sea surface salinity data products spanning 2010-2019 are freely available for evaluation purposes from the Climate Change Initiative’s data portal. The project is also looking into retrieving salinity from earlier satellite radiometers operating in the C-band of the electromagnetic spectrum, that would allow extending the time series back in time to the early 2000s.

Changes in climate patterns and their association to natural hazard distribution in South Tyrol (Eastern Italian Alps)

New paper - Changes in climate patterns and their association to natural hazard distribution in South Tyrol (Eastern Italian Alps)The impacts of climate change play out through extreme and “abnormal” weather.  

In mountainous areas, extreme meteorological events are becoming more frequent, such as the 2018 Vaia storm in the Italian Alps. By triggering landslides or debris flows, these events can pose a potentially increasing hazard for human life and infrastructure.

In a new paper, published in Nature Scientific Reports, ESA research fellow, Romy Schlögel, uses satellite-derived climate data records and new Earth Observation measurements from high return rate satellites such as the Copernicus Sentinels to investigate the spatio-temporalevolution of climatic and natural hazard events recorded in South Tyrol, Italy as well as potential relations between meteorological conditions and the hazard occurrence.


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